NHL Rumor Mill – January 7, 2020

by | Jan 7, 2020 | Rumors | 24 comments

Are more moves coming for the Predators after firing their head coach? What’s the latest on the Rangers, Penguins, and Jets? Find out in today’s edition of the NHL rumor mill.


THE HOCKEY NEWS: Jared Clinton reports speculation abounds over who will replace Peter Laviolette as the Nashville Predators head coach. The Predators last night announced Laviolette had been relieved of his duties.

Former San Jose Sharks coach Peter DeBoer and former New Jersey Devils bench boss John Hynes are being suggested as his potential replacement. Clinton cites Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Predators indicate their coach for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins remains to be announced.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators announced former Devils coach John Hynes has been hired as Laviolette’s replacement. 

ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski also reports DeBoer and Hynes are being mentioned as possible candidates for the Predators’ vacant coaching position. He  suggested former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, though he needs an image rehab following accusations of mental abuse by some former players.

Will Nashville Predators GM David Poile make a move or two before the trade deadline? (Photo via NHL Images)

Wyshynski also expects Predators general manager David Poile to be active by the Feb. 24 trade deadline. He points out Poile has already indicated the Preds are “open for business.” They have five picks in the first three round of the 2020 NHL Draft and could have upward of $8 million in cap space by the deadline.

THE ATHLETIC: Before Laviolette’s firing, Adam Vingan listed Mikael Granlund, Craig Smith, Nick Bonino, and Kyle Turris as possible trade candidates if Poile becomes a seller. Of the four, Bonino could have the most trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ performance under Laviolette’s replacement over the next four weeks will determine if Poile becomes a buyer or a seller. That coaching change might not help if the Preds don’t get better goaltending from Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros, who have a combined 3.27 goals-against per game.

If Poile becomes a seller, pending UFAs Granlund and Smith are the most likely to be moved. Bonino has one year remaining on his contract with an annual average salary of $4.1 million. Turris’s $6-million annual average value through 2023-24 makes him almost untradeable, unless Poile agrees to pick up a healthy chunk of his cap hit.


NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks wonders why the Rangers called up goaltender Igor Shesterkin when they already have Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev. It’s unclear if the move was motivated by concern over Shesterkin possibly exercising the out-clause in his contract to return to the KHL, or to play with a European club. Lundqvist isn’t going anywhere, while Georgiev’s waiver exemption expired on Dec. 20.

Brooks reports there’s no indication the Rangers have a trade in the works for Georgiev or that teams are calling with interest in Lundqvist, who has no intention of waiving his no-movement clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers could be concerned Shesterkin might head overseas if he didn’t see NHL action this season. If he plays well, it could stoke speculation over Georgiev’s future in New York. If he plays poorly, the Blueshirts can justify returning him to the minors for the rest of the season.


TRIBLIVE.COM: Seth Rorabaugh reports the Pittsburgh Penguins intend to find a way to replace sidelined winger Jake Guentzel. They have the opportunity to clear his $6-million salary-cap hit by potentially placing him on long-term injury reserve. GM Jim Rutherford said he’s received some calls, but he’s been offered depth forwards rather than a top-six winger.

Rutherford indicated he doesn’t need to address his left-side depth because of the versatility of his wingers. “If a better right winger comes along than a left-winger that makes sense in a deal, I don’t feel the pressure that we have to have a left-hand shot,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will certainly broaden the range of potential trade targets for the Penguins in the coming weeks. Once they get back their other sidelined forwards, such as Sidney Crosby and Nick Bjugstad, Rutherford will be able to better evaluate his needs at forward.


WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Jets defenseman Sami Niku downplayed a report out of his native Finland claiming he’s unhappy with his place in the club’s organization. He had an early-season clash with Jets assistant coach Charlie Huddy and spent some time with their AHL affiliate. That left him reportedly considering a trade request or heading for the KHL.

Niku acknowledged the dispute with Huddy but claimed it was a miscommunication and apologized to Huddy. He also insisted he doesn’t want to play in the KHL. Jets coach Paul Maurice attributed Niku’s demotion to injuries.


  1. Last evening the Islanders became the last of the 31 teams to play their 41st game (the half-way mark), joining TB, Nash, NYR & NJ. Meanwhile, two teams (Edm & Vegas) are already 4 games into the 2nd half with 45 played, 5 are at 44 (Ariz, Tor, SJ, L.A., Cgy) and 11 are at 43 (Wpg, Mtl, Clb, Wash, Minn, Det, Chi, Col, Bost, StL, Buff). I suppose it could mean fewer back-to-backs for those teams down the stretch.

    Anyway, in the event anyone’s interested, here’s the league standings for all 31 after their 41st gp, and since there were just 9 points separating 25th-place from 8th a lot in that grouping of 18 may think they still have a shot at a WC at least. The next 2 weeks should finally separate the wheat from the chaff.

    1. Wash 27 9 5 59 146 122 +24
    2. St. L 26 9 6 58 128 107 +21
    3. Bos 24 7 10 58 138 105 +33
    4. NYI 26 12 3 55 116 105 +11
    5. Pitt 25 11 5 55 141 109 +32
    6. Col 24 13 4 52 151 122 +29
    7. TB 24 13 4 52 147 125 +22
    8. Car 24 15 2 50 139 116 +23
    9. Dal 23 14 4 50 111 103 +8
    10. Tor 22 14 5 49 146 122 +14
    11. Pha 22 14 5 49 131 123 +8
    12. Van 22 15 4 48 139 124 +15
    13. Fla 21 15 5 47 147 140 +7
    14. Wpg 22 16 3 47 128 126 +2
    15. Ariz 21 16 4 46 115 107 +8
    16. Veg 20 15 6 46 125 122 +3
    17. Clb 19 14 8 46 107 113 -6
    18. Cgy 20 16 5 45 111 122 -11
    19. Edm 20 17 4 44 118 129 -11
    20. Nas 19 16 6 44 142 137 +5
    21. Min 19 17 5 43 126 137 -11
    22. NYR 19 18 4 42 133 138 -5
    23. Mtl 18 17 6 42 132 133 -1
    24. Chic 18 17 6 42 118 132 -14
    25. Buff 17 17 7 41 121 131 -10
    26. SJ 17 21 3 37 109 139 -30
    27. Ott 16 20 5 37 114 138 -24
    28. Ana 16 20 5 37 105 128 -23
    29. L.A. 16 21 4 36 104 129 -25
    30. NJ 15 20 6 36 106 144 -38
    31. Det 10 28 3 23 89 157 -68

    • I think my Canucks are on that list of wheat/chaff you speak of George. They’ve improved this year but now the schedule gets tougher starting with this latest 5 game road trip.
      Meeting of 2 teams on a 7 game streak. Lets see who gets to 8 tonite.

      • Vancouver hasn’t been an “easy” 2 points for anyone by and large and, sitting just 4 pts back of Vegas in the Pacific with 3 games in hand on them and Edmonton, who they trail by just a single point, and 2 back of Arizona with 2 games in hand on them, I think they’ll be in the hunt right to the end IF they can garner at least 5 points out of their next 5 games (TB, Fla, Buff, Minn, Wpg). I like their chances.

      • Markstroms playing lights out behind an absolutely brutal defence.

        I had them finishing in the lottery before the season but theyve been better than I thought.

      • Ron, to me they’ve been THE surprise team of the year so far from a positive aspect – from a negative the big surprise has to be San Jose.

  2. Very suprised about the coaching change in Nashville.
    With Laviolete suddenly becoming available, I think alot of teams are re-evaluating their staff. I dont think he and McCarthy will be out of a job too long.

  3. Lav to SJ?

    • or to Seattle? A reunion of sorts with Francis?

      • That is a great idea. Gives him time to stay away and reassess everything. Great option for Francis

  4. A trade or trades your team made you wish didn’t happen….I got three


    Joe Thornton to the Sharks
    Blake Wheeler to the Thrashers
    Tyler Seguin to the Stars

    • Joe, too long a list for Leaf fans. I’ll just mention Tuuka Rask. Oh, and Phil Kessel. For starters.

    • Joe, the Wheeler deal doesn’t bother me solely because the Bruins won the cup that year.

      I trade I didn’t like was Dougie Hamilton, shouldn’t been traded, nobody knew he was available and should have gotten more but more importantly should not of been traded, yes I know he asked but he was still under Boston control.

      The return for Hamilton ended up being Zack Senyshyn, Jacob Forsbacka-karlsson (was suppose to be the next Bergy) and Jeremy Lauzon. Not one of these players is an NHL regular.

      I suppose if Boston had of chosen Kyle Connor, Matthew Barzal or Thomas Chabot over Senyshyn I made feel better about the deal. But never liked giving up 6’5 dman who can skake.

    • Hey Joe, 2 of those 3 where Peter Chiarelli. You can add a few more to his list from his time in Edmonton.
      He didn’t make the Thornton trade, the guy who did was canned after the season. But this was the first season with a salary cap.
      His interim replacement, Jeff Gorton, signed Chara with that cap space. The B’s didn’t think Thornton was a guy who could lead a team to a Stanley Cup. He didn’t fit the mold from those days, easy going guy, didn’t take things too seriously.
      Who knows what would have happened if he stayed, and the Bruins don’t sign Chara. But still the return was brutal.
      During Gorton’s interim stint he also traded Raycroft for Rask, drafted Kessell, Lucic and Marchand.
      Pretty productive few months as the GM in Boston.

      • From what I’ve read, Thornton was only made available because of the emergence of one Patrice Bergeron.

        I didn’t mind the trading of certain players. My beef was with the lack of return for said players.
        Hamilton was a head scratcher.

      • Ray, a little history on March 25th 2006 Boston fired then GM Mike O’Connell the straw that broke the camel back leading to his firing was 7 days prior he signed Tim Thomas to a 3yr contract. That signing doesn’t look so bad now.

      • The Seguin one was a kick, they didn’t let him grow up and from what I read they more or less blamed him for the Chicago SC loss in 13….Tyler would’ve fit in with those Bruins players of the 70’s

      • He fit in pretty good with Marchand too Joe. The pics from their party after the cup were great.

      • Never knew that Caper.
        Fired for signing their eventual Playoff MVP from 2011.

    • Hey Joe, Great question 🙂 Can I just say the hiring of Mike Milbury?

      Traded away Chara, plus plus for Yashin
      Traded away Luongo so he could draft DiPietro
      Traded Betruzzi and Macabe for a washed up Linden who ended up back in Vancouver.

      There’s more but I’m getting kinda sad now.

  5. It wouldn’t be prudent for Rutherford to part with the assets a top-six wing would cost if he views that wing as a rental player. In fact, salary cap constraints would make the retention of any qualified player he acquires , UFA or not, unlikely beyond this season without shedding salary.

    There are several players on the Penguins roster whose departure would significantly increase cap room next season, but there is only one who might seduce other teams into giving up a top-six wing, while allowing the Penguins to put their current best five skaters and top goalie on the ice at the same time.

    Matt Murray will seek around $7 million next season. As reported in the July 30 edition of Forbes magazine and mentioned on this site. “The Tampa Bay Lightning spiked the NHL’s goalie market when they locked down their starter (Vasilevskiy) for the long term.” Some team should be interested.

  6. Caper pretty sure you can blame wasting those Hamilton first round picks on emerging scouting genius Keith Gretzky. Some how those great picks got him a job with Edmonton. He’s still lurking somewhere in Ken Holland’s broom closet.

    • Assistant GM

  7. For pengy. This article generally sums up the attitude towards jj in the burgh.